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Charlotte Area

CATS Says Blue Line Extension Won't Open Until March 2018

Workers lift a girder into place for the Lynx Blue Line Extension over Harris Boulevard in February 2016.
David Boraks
Workers lift a girder into place for the Lynx Blue Line Extension over Harris Boulevard in February 2016.

Charlotte Area Transit System said Monday the Lynx Blue Line Extension won't open for service in August as originally planned. Instead, the 9.3 mile line from uptown to UNC Charlotte will open seven months later - in March 2018. 

CATS blames the delay on "construction coordination challenges" and yet-to-be-completed testing on the new line.  
CATS had hoped to open the line in time for the start of classes at UNC Charlotte next fall.  It's now scheduled to open by March 31, 2018.  The transit system said in a press release Monday night: 

"CATS has pursued every available option of schedule compression in an attempt to deliver the BLE to the Charlotte region by the August 2017 schedule. Contract incentives and additional staff added to construction contracts in 2015, done to mitigate early delays due to utility relocation, construction, weather, etc., were valuable investments that kept the project from extending past the March 2018 required opening.  Even with these mitigation efforts, the ambitious schedule and ongoing construction coordination continue to be a challenge, and light rail service will not begin in August as previously communicated."

The opening could come sooner if CATS and its contractors can come up with ways to shorten the timeline, CATS said.  
CATS says the project remains under budget and "any additional costs due to schedule lengthening will not increase the original $1.6 billion budget." 
The system said 91 percent of construction is now complete and businesses along the corridor should now start to see fewer lane closures. 
Trains will begin testing on the line this spring. 
See updates about the Lynx Blue Line and other CATS services at ridetransit.org.